Why forests

Climate Mitigation

We tend to think of climate change as a fairly recent issue. Yet, governments all around the world have been commissioning scientists and economists to analyse the impacts of climate change since the 70s.

But now, the scientific processes to address this vitally important issue have been confirmed and coordinated through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which was itself was created in the 1980’s with the help of, among others, Britain’s then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. You can read more about this here.

‘An increase in global temperature is proportional to the build-up of long-lasting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially CO2. Taking more action now reduces the need for more extreme action later to stay within safe emission limits.’

Achim Steiner, Former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP

So now we know we need to act, where do we begin? How do we make it economically viable to change the way we live, work, travel, do business and power our lives and still not harm the planet?

The answer, as you may expect, is a multi-layered one.

The question, the answer

When faced with dealing with the consequences of climate change, we need to ask how much of a temperature rise can the world withstand – and how much will it cost to avoid it?

Scientists and governments agree that we can accommodate a maximum 2°C average temperature rise before the negative impacts become too extreme (and too costly) for us to deal with.

The reality is, however, that we’re on course for a much higher temperature rise, probably two to three times more. This means we must act now to mitigate (or reduce) carbon emissions to change the path we’re on. It is up to us.

Governments, through their international negotiations, have made significant progress to address climate change through the INDCs they’ve all published (an Intended Nationally Determined Contributions is a country’s pledge to deliver lower emissions).

Find out more about the global agreement on climate here.

But these steps don’t get us far enough. The diagram below shows the gap we still need to address to stay within a safe climate. So how do we deal with this situation faster and more effectively?

global-greenhouse-gas-emissions

The energy to change

Today, we all have much greater awareness of our need to use energy more efficiently, effectively and responsibly.

So on a personal level we all recycle more, use energy efficient lighting, fit insulation, use smart meters, shop local and so on. Cities are bringing in Congestion Charges, building more cycle lanes, commissioning greener builds, incentivising electric vehicles and car sharing, and using solar to power street lights.

Small steps yes, but they’re all moving us in the right direction.

But on a much bigger scale we need to work towards a complete transition of the energy system away from the dominant fossil fuels we have today (oil, gas and coal) and shift towards more renewable forms of energy.

And this isn’t the fantasy it once was. Because what was once viewed as inefficient and impossible – wind farms, solar panels on our roofs and even tidal power – is now becoming commonplace and cost-effective.

But will this all happen fast enough?  Will it be enough to do what scientists say is necessary?

Is there a more natural answer?

All these steps are valid and must be applauded and continued. Yet our own planet holds the key to helping us even more.

Natural ecosystems store about a quarter of annual greenhouse gas emissions and are critical to carbon mitigation.

Not only does forest destruction and degradation cause 10% of global carbon emissions, but depending on the size and species, one tree can hold between 35 to 800 pounds (or 16 – 363kg) of carbon dioxide each year!1

So by protecting and restoring our tropical and sub-tropical forests (as well as other landscapes such as grasslands, wetlands, mangroves and agricultural lands) we reduce the carbon going into our atmosphere. And by protecting these landscapes, we’ll do more than deliver carbon reductions, we’ll also create an incredible range of additional benefits.

Many companies around the world are promising to address deforestation within their supply chains. Good news, of course, but given the urgency of the situation, we need to do all we can to protect our forest carbon assets now and help them grow and flourish into the future.

ecosphereforest-infographic-long-06

Make change happen

At Ecosphere+ we believe that by paying a price for the carbon we use today, and investing this in our forest carbon assets, is the most realistic, achievable and effective step we can take to make our world a cleaner, greener and healthier place to live.

Find out more about the work we do all over the world. We invite you to join us!

Helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sustainable Development Goal 13 – Climate Action

[1] EPA